Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Written by Hombre Divertido

Destined to be a college campus classic, Borat takes the standard fish-out-of-water concept and brings the comedic vehicle to some of the rankest levels seen in years.

Borat, 20th Century Fox's big-screen incarnation of Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh journalist from Da Ali G Show, travels to America to learn of our country. A premise ripe with comedic opportunities that stirred the emotions of the actual citizens of Kazakhstan, as reported in the news weeks before the release of the film, and rightfully so as this story depicts them as being far more backwards than anything we’ve encountered cinematically since Deliverance.

After briefly introducing us to Borat’s home and family, our story really begins in New York, as the actual trip to America is skipped all together which was an interesting directorial choice as it would have seemed to have been fraught with comedic opportunities. Nonetheless, we pick up our hero in the big city, as the camera follows him through many adventures, interviews, etc. Though most of the jokes we hear while meeting Borat’s family have been heard before, there are some gems delivered in the introduction of other town folk, and the interviews and footage of his experiences in the first few days in the big city are quite humorous. Unfortunately, the story then breaks down as does the film itself.

It is disappointing that the writer and director could not have stuck to their proverbial instinctive guns and delivered a mockumentary revolving around a foreign reporter traveling to our country full of subtle humor equal to the bear head in the refrigerator, rather than have so much potential get lost on a weak story filled with cheap jokes as Borat becomes obsessed with getting to California to find Pamela Anderson.

The final cut of this film plays like a cross between a mockumentary and a situation comedy, with the situation comedy scenes looking staged and sorely out of place. The cast takes tremendous risks in some of the improvised scenes and many of them pay off. Unfortunately some of the staged material comes off as simply offensive, though loved by many.

Recommendation: This film has some classic comedic moments in it as well as some that are classically offensive and absurd. It is sure to be a box-office bonanza, but cannot compete with classic mockumentaries of the past such as This is Spinal Tap where subtle humor reigned.

For better constructed fish-out-of-water tales regarding foreigners coming to the United States you might want to check out Moscow on the Hudson or even Crocodile Dundee, though it is apparent that today’s movie going audience prefers Borat bringing his fecal matter to the dinner table in a bag rather than Crocodile Dundee attempting to understand the purpose of a bidet.